Cross-border knowledge and model transfers in multinational companies as complex processes of negotiation


Cross-border transfer and exchange processes are a regular occurrence at larger multinational companies (MNCs), so that MNCs have meanwhile developed fairly standardised routines and practices in this area. On the other hand, transfer and exchange processes may often be seen within the company as a drastic interruption to "business as usual" when they are connected with plans for reorganisation and expansion on an international scale. Conflicts are especially likely if the company-wide balance of power is at stake. Various groups at manager level and frequently also the various stakeholders (internal and external) of the company are most likely to be involved in these conflicts. Levels of conflict also vary. Individuals, different departments, whole branches or even entire company divisions may be at loggerheads, frequently across national and cultural divides.

This is the starting point for Christoph Dörrenbächer's project. The main research goal is to explore the complex negotiating and conflict regulation processes in connection with cross-border reorganisation and expansion plans in multinational companies. On the basis of empirical case reconstructions, the following questions (among others) will be asked:

  • What are typical conflicts which arise in the context of cross-border knowledge and model transfers in MNCs and which actor constellations are implied?
  • What influence is exerted by the differing national levels of welfare provision on the one hand and fundamental differences of national institutions and culture on the other?
  • What is the role of "values communities" (groups defined by shared values which are independent of national and organisational borders) in MNCs?
  • What are MNC-specific cultures of interaction and centrally determined strategies for conflict resolution within MNCs and what significance is attached to them?

On a conceptual level, the project works from the basis of micro-political organisation theory and theories of actor-centred institutionalism, whereby these need to be adapted to the specific problems of internationalisation. A major empirical area is the study of transfer projects of German MNCs to Central and Eastern European countries.